Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2002
DSDS 2002: Plenary session 5, 10 February 2002Defining the stakes, engaging the stakeholders
Nitin Pandit, PhD.
Executive Director, IIEC, Washington, DC, USA
Global Thinking, Local Action
Bringing Energy and Environmental Efficiency to the Center Stage:Setting the Framework for a Discourse Among Stakeholders for a Climate Neutral Rio+10 (WSSD) Executive Summary
Multinational corporations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are engaged in a fierce battle over the increasing influence of the globalization of trade on daily life and the environment. While NGOs demand environmental and economic protection with local control to promote sustainable development, corporations promote supra-national rules through multilateral organizations, like the World Trade Organization (WTO), to liberalize trade and access to markets at the global level. The debate is important because the results can affect the livelihoods of people around the globe, with one of the primary indicator being the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change.
On one hand, recent outbreaks of protest in meetings of the WTO and the World Bank show that there is significant potential for conflict between the grassroots environmental organizations and global rule-setting institutions. On the other hand, the discussions about NGOs and Corporates working together to create a carbon neutral WSSD present an opportunity toward cooperation. At the International Institute for Energy Conservation (IIEC), we believe that the debate between global rules and local controls is healthy if a consistent framework is created to convert the acrimonious debate into a meaningful discourse. Specifically, we believe that the organizing principle of such a consistent framework is energy and environmental efficiency, because the efficient use of local energy and environmental resources promotes sustainable development and also business growth. Therefore, IIECs strategic objective at WSSD is to influence the debate such that local and global concerns can be framed by the principle of improving energy and environmental efficiency.
The discussions about a climate neutral WSSD in Johannesburg, South Africa later this year provides a useful backdrop for engaging the stakeholders. To demonstrate the principle of improving energy and environmental efficiency, IIEC is engaged in discussions with international organizations on a five step process toward a climate neutral WSSD.
The trade debate is erupting between the WTO, the multinationals and the NGOs. While the one side tries to constitute global rules to promote multinational trade, the other tries to protect local control over energy and environmental resources. History shows us that such tension between global rules and local controls can lead to a healthy discourse if the parties can agree to a consistent framework for the debate.
The Greek philosophers laid the framework for the popular environmental metaphor "think global, act local" and Raphael described it beautifully in The School of Athens as a discourse (see Cover), in which Platos hand points to the importance of large abstract ideas and his student, Aristotles hand emphasizes the need for down-to-earth local actions. In recent times, similar tensions in the young United States between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton were resolved through a constructive discourse represented by the words "We, the people, " that provide the pragmatic framework for the U.S. constitution. It should come as no surprise that strong tensions and loud debates have arisen over the emergence of a supra-national trade constitution at the WTO, and perhaps the most striking threat to livelihood in the form of global climate change.
The theory represented in Raphaels brush strokes and in the pragmatism embodied in the U.S. constitution exemplify sustainable results of constructive discourses on global thinking, local action. We need a framework for the discourse between the forces promoting global rules for trade and the concerns about the husbandry of local energy and environmental resources.
Specifically, we propose to influence the trade debate at the multilateral organizations, such as the WTO and the World Bank, so that trade rules and regulations, at the local and global levels, are based on the unifying principle and goal of improving energy and environmental efficiency. In fact, we expect that the adoption of a framework based on energy and environmental efficiency can provide the cornerstone for a discourse on global climate change at WSSD.
The Target Audience at WSSD
We expect that our approach to create such a discourse will have a sustained impact on several institutions and through them, the public at large. Specifically, our efforts to promote energy and environmental efficiency will provide our target audience with a "win-win" rationale for:
Our proposed effort is innovative because the use of efficiency (not impacts) as a measure provides us with a rational framework that is comprehensible to economic policy makers in multilateral organizations, multinationals, and NGOs. Through IIECs office in Johannesburg, South Africa, we will present a number of projects that demonstrate how stakeholders can be engaged at WSSD later this year, and to make the summit climate neutral.
IIEC at WSSD
To promote a framework based on improving energy and environmental efficiency, IIEC has been in discussion with several groups at the international level to create a five-step process toward a climate neutral summit. Specifically, through our office in Johannesburg, we expect the process to include the following.
Through demonstration projects, IIEC hopes to show how stakeholders at the international and local levels can work together, and use the principle of improving energy and environmental efficiency as a pragmatic principle for global thinking and local action.